by | 11.17.2010 | 12:46am

 By Ray Paulick

The Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill criminalizing the transportation of horses for the purpose of slaughtering them for human consumption. The action, by voice vote, came less than 24 hours after Josephine Abercrombie, a prominent Kentucky Thoroughbred owner and breeder, sent  a letter (co-signed by 45 others) to Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas), urging passage of the bill over the “neutral” position taken by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association one week earlier. The bill, H.R. 6598, known as the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008, now moves to the House floor.

Abercrombie's letter (shown below) seemed to trump an earlier letter by NTRA president Alex Waldrop, which said the NTRA had “concerns with the bill and potential unintended consequences.” The NTRA had previously supported anti-slaughter legislation filed but not passed in 2003; Waldrop's letter did not address other anti-slaughter bills currently under consideration. Abercrombie and her co-signors urged support of all anti-slaughter legislation currently before the 110th Congress. “We and so many others in the Thoroughbred breeding and racing community strongly support all legislative initiatives, including H.R. 503, S. 311, and H.R. 6598, which will bring horse slaughter to a swift end,” Abercrombie  wrote. “We want you to know that the NTRA's position is not representative of the larger community.”

There currently are no slaughter plants operating in the U.S., the two in Texas having been shut down by a court ruling and a plant in Illinois shuttered after a state law was passed. There has been an increase in the number of horses being transported across the borders into Canada and Mexico, however, and H.R. 6598 provides enforcement for federal officials to end that. Horses confiscated would be under the jusisdiction of the attorney general, who, according to the bill, “shall provide for the humane placement or other humane disposition of any horse seized.”


Abercrombie is a prominent and successful Thoroughbred owner and breeder who owns Pin Oak Stud near Versailles, Ky. She is involved in numerous philanthropic causes, serves as a trustee of the Breeders' Cup and is a member of the Jockey Club, among other Thoroughbred industry organizations.

Among those who signed the letter with Abercrombie are the owners of such well-known horses as reigning Horse of the Year Curlin (Barbara Banke and Jess Jackson), Kentucky Derby winner and Horse of the Year Sunday Silence (Arthur and Staci Hancock, along with breeders Deborah and Thomas Tatham), Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide (Jackson Knowlton of Sackatoga Stable), Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos (Debby and John Oxley, along with breeder James Squires), Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones (Pat Chapman), and Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro (Gretchen and Roy Jackson). Others who signed the letter include Racing Hall of Fame members Nick Zito (trainer of multiple Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown race winners); jockey Gary Stevens (multiple Kentucky Derby winner); and Julie Krone (Belmont Stakes winner and all-time leading female rider).

In addition, a number of the individuals who signed the letter have strong ties to Texas or Oklahoma, where opposition to the anti-slaughter legislation has been the strongest. Included in that list are Abercrombie, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Ford, Janice and Robert McNair, Debby and John Oxley, Madeleine Paulson Pickens (wife of T. Boone Pickens), and Deborah and Thomas Tatham.


Following is the text of the letter from Josephine Abercrombie and the list of co-signors.

Sept. 23, 2008

Dear Chairman Conyers and Ranking Member Smith:

Last week, during a Judiciary Committee mark up of H.R. 6598 – the Prevention of Equine Cruelty Act of 2008, it was revealed that the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) does not support current legislation to ban horse slaughter. Needless to say, we were surprised at the revelation and disappointed by the reasons NTRA put forward, none of which are valid.

As Thoroughbred industry leaders who have long supported all Congressional actions to end this cruel industry, we were disappointed that the NTRA voiced unfounded concerns to those who support the slaughter of horses thus jeopardizing the passage of this legislation. We and so many others in the Thoroughbred breeding and racing community strongly support all legislative initiatives, including H.R. 503, S. 311, and H.R. 6598, which will bring horse slaughter to a swift end. We want you to know that the NTRA's position is not representative of the larger community.

We commend you, Chairman Conyers, for providing this bill with a fair hearing, which has allowed it to move to this point. Given the narrow opportunity to act before Congress adjourns, we hope that H.R. 6598 can swiftly be moved from Committee to the floor of the full House of Representatives for final consideration. This bill is too important for politics to delay its enactment. Every five minutes an American horse is slaughtered. This bill can stop that.

H.R. 6598 is a sound bill that puts enforcement into the hands of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and its agents who are trained and staffed to deal with criminal issues. We feel confident that the DOJ has the necessary experience in dealing with large animal confiscations having led such high profile investigations involving animal fighting, Class B Dealers, and puppy mills. As with other statutes, under H.R. 6598, the DOJ has the authority to ask for assistance from other federal, state and non-governmental agencies during its enforcement of the law and this flexibility has shown to be highly effective.

Under a close examination of the concerns asserted by those opposing the bill, we can see no legitimate reason not to pass this legislation. As representatives of the Thoroughbred industry we look forward to the next Committee mark up of H.R. 6598 and urge you to pass H.R. 6598 as written, without amendments, as soon as possible.




Josephine Abercrombie



WE, the undersigned, are co-signors of this letter and support legislation to stop the slaughter of American horses.


John H. Adger, racing and bloodstock manager, Stonerside Stable, Houston, TX;
Peggy Augustus, Thoroughbred owner and breeder, Keswick Stables, Keswick, VA;
Betty and Gary Biszantz, Thoroughbred owners and breeders, Cobra Farm, Lexington, KY and Solana Beach, CA;
Nadia Sanan Briggs, Thoroughbred owner and breeder, Padua Stables, Ocala, FL;
Anne and Cot Campbell, Thoroughbred owners, Dogwood Stable, Aiken, SC;
Pat Chapman, Thoroughbred owner and breeder, Someday Farm, Doylestown, PA;
Jenny Craig, Thoroughbred owner and breeder, Rancho Paseana, Rancho Santa Fe, CA;
Carol Farmer, Thoroughbred owner and breeder, Shadowlawn Farm, Midway, KY;
Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Ford, Thoroughbred owners and breeders, Diamond A Farms, Versailles, KY;
Maegan Ford, Thoroughbred owner and breeder, Diamond A Farms, Versailles, KY;
Staci and Arthur Hancock, Thoroughbred owners and breeders, Stone Farm, Paris, KY;
Mark Hennig, Thoroughbred owner and trainer, Garden City, NY;
Sara Jones Hill, Thoroughbred owner, Coconut Grove, FL;
Gretchen and Roy Jackson, Thoroughbred owners and breeders, Lael Farm, West Grove, PA;
Barbara Banke and Jess Jackson, Thoroughbred owners and breeders, Stonestreet Farm, Lexington, KY;
Jackson W. Knowlton, Thoroughbred owner, managing partner, Sackatoga Stable, Saratoga Springs, NY;
Julie Krone, Racing Hall of Fame jockey, Los Angeles, CA;
Janice and Robert McNair, Thoroughbred owners and breeders, Stonerside Stables, Houston, TX;
Ellen Moelis and Herbert I Moelis, Thoroughbred Charities of America, Candyland Farm, Middletown, DE;
Maggi Moss, Thoroughbred owner, Moss Equestrians, Des Moines, Iowa;
Joanne and Paul Oreffice, Thoroughbred owners, Dogwood Stables, Paradise Valley, AZ;
Debby and John Oxley, Thoroughbred owners and breeders, Fawn Leap Farm, Midway, KY;
Madeleine Paulson Pickens, Thoroughbred owner and breeder, Rancho Santa Fe, CA;
Dan Rosenberg, Rosenberg Thoroughbred Consulting,, Midway, KY;
James D. Squires, Two Bucks Farm, Versailles, KY;
Angie Athayde-Stevens, Thoroughbred consultant, Los Angeles, CA;
Gary Stevens, Racing Hall of Fame jockey; Los Angeles, CA;
Deborah W. Tatham and Thomas P. Tatham, Thoroughbred owners and breeders, Oak Cliff Breeders, Houston, TX;
Melanie and Jeffrey Tucker, Stone Bridge Farm, Schuylerville, NY;
Marylou Whitney and John Hendrickson, Thoroughbred owners and breeders, Lexington, KY and Saratoga Springs, NY;
Kim and Nick Zito, Thoroughbred owner and trainer, Lexington, KY and Saratoga Springs, NY.

Copyright © 2008, The Paulick Report

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